Innovation and Montgomery Join JumpStart Theatre as Cohort Two

Posted: Thursday, October 3rd 2019


Teachers at the first JumpStart Theatre bootcamp

Two SDUSD middle schools – Innovation and Montgomery – were selected to be part of Cohort Two in San Diego’s JumpStart Theatre program. JumpStart Theatre is national program which seeks to develop theatre programs at middle schools where there previously were none. It is a collaboration with the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) Foundation, iTheatrics, Music Theatre International (MTI), and locally supported by the La Jolla Playhouse. 

This is the second year of JumpStart Theatre in San Diego; last year’s Cohort One schools included DePortola, Knox, and Taft Middle Schools. This past spring, these three schools produced their first-ever musical theatre productions. Then, in May, the students showcased excerpts from their works on the La Jolla Playhouse stage at the JumpStart Theatre Showcase in front of friends and family, as well as District Superintendent Cindy Marten and VAPA Director Russ Sperling.

Schools are selected for JumpStart through a rigorous application process and site visit. The program leverages existing teams of teachers from the school site, many without arts backgrounds, but who are excited about bringing the arts to their students. These teacher teams are trained through a series of three “bootcamps” covering all areas of musical theatre production, the first one of which occurred on September 21. The teacher teams also receive ongoing coaching from a La Jolla Playhouse trained mentor, empowering them to guide their programs independently. Students are also involved in every aspect of the production: performance, costumes, sets, and design. JumpStart Theatre provides participant schools with materials, budget, and training support (valued at $12,000 annually per school) to produce one full-scale musical production a year for three years, acting as seed money for the program to reach sustainability.

According to the JumpStart Theatre website, the aims of JumpStart Theatre are:

  • to be sustainable and implemented at underserved middle schools,
  • engage as many students as possible in all aspects of theatre,
  • prepare students for high school, college and the workforce by instilling the skills of collaboration, communication, problem solving and creativity.

The JumpStart Theatre Research Project reported that “students who participated in JumpStart Theatre achieved higher Next Generation Creativity Scores than the control group” and concluded that “JumpStart Theatre draws at-risk students with an interest in creative expression and gives them an opportunity to develop and demonstrate creativity that might otherwise go undeveloped.”  

This spring, each of the five participating San Diego Unified middle schools will produce at least two public performances of a musical theatre production from MTI’s Broadway Junior series.

  • Innovation Middle School: Fame Jr.
  • Montgomery Middle School: Annie Jr.
  • Taft Middle School: Aladdin Jr.
  • Knox Middle School: Aladdin Jr.
  • DePortola Middle School: Guys and Dolls Jr.

Selections from each of the school musicals will also be performed at the culminating JumpStart Theatre Showcase on June 6, 2020, at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Congratulations to Innovation and Montgomery on their acceptance, and “break a leg” to all the JumpStart Theatre schools.

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